HERMON, Maine — Peter Cowin, a local beekeeper who calls himself “the bee whisperer,” slid into his white suit and pulled a helmet over his head just as two semi-trucks entered the Dysart’s Restaurant parking lot Friday afternoon. Cowin climbed onto the tailgate of his pickup truck and reached for a small 1-by-2- foot teal box that was screwed to the side of a telephone pole.
“The first box I removed had between 10,000 and 15,000 bees [in it], and this one feels by the weight of it about 20,000 bees.” said Cowin.
According to Cowin, as trucks carrying honey bees drive back and forth to Maine blueberry barrens the drivers stop at places like Dysart’s for fuel or a bite of, as Cowin puts it, “buttery, flaky crust”.
During these rest stops, bees escape, which can cause problems at the truck stops.
“One time, they went onto a dump truck, and there were thousands of them. We had to call a bee guy to come around and take care of the bees.” said Dysart’s vice president Tim Dysart.
Cowin comes by the Dysart’s shop every one or two days to check on the decoy traps. As one fills up, he removes it with bees inside and replaces it with an empty box. Cowin will then take the bees home for honey production and offers bee supply to other beekeepers.
He encourages people to do what they can to save the bees and explains that spraying a swarm with a can of Raid is a bad idea. Instead, he said to call a beekeeper.
Cowin gently placed the decoy box into the back of his pickup.
“It’s good that they’re not flying around the place, and they’re safely in a new home,” said Cowin.